Wilbur Mauk was born in Astoria, Oregon, on Nov. 6, 1943 while his father was overseas in the Philippines. After his father returned, the family moved to Lodi, California, then Angwin California, where his father ran Mauk’s Auto Repair “up the hill” from Pacific Union College. During his pre-academy years, Mauk spent most of his time learning to work on cars—everything from rebuilding engines to painting and body work.
Mauk attended Milo Academy in southern Oregon, where he met Janice Keear. He often told family that he was sitting in the cafeteria eating supper after working on the farm when he looked up and saw Janice. He told his friends, “I’m going to marry that girl.” He asked Janice to marry him when she was 15, and they were married in Oroville, California, on June 20, 1965—one month shy of her eighteenth birthday.
Mauk returned to Milo Academy in 1966 to work on the farm, take care of the equipment and teach auto body classes. During this time, he and Janice had two children. Milo Academy closed the farm in 1970, so Mauk took a job in Roseburg working for a logging truck company, where he worked until 1981.
As an elder in the local church, he began to feel that his life’s passion was to become a pastor. In 1976 he was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer and underwent major surgery. During his recovery, he began to study his Bible more than before, but he wasn’t quite ready to stop working at the logging truck company.
In 1984, a call came from Elder Ben Liebelt, president of the Dakota Conference. If Mauk was willing to go to the Pine Ridge Mission on the Pine Ridge Reservation to work with the Native Americans, the Dakota Conference would consider ordaining him as a minister.
For 10 years the Mauk family worked on the reservation, doing everything from running a school to cutting firewood to transporting people to church in every kind of weather. The attendance and membership of the church grew to about 40 people. During his tenure, he also realized his dream of becoming an ordained minister.
In 1994, he took a call as the mission director for the La Vida Mission in New Mexico and worked there for five years. He was then called back to North Dakota, where he spent six years in the Williston district fulfilling his love of ministry as a pastor. While there, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and underwent open heart surgery.
In 2006, he and Janice moved to Lehr, North Dakota, where he spent about a year pastoring. His MS began to take a toll on his ability to stand and move around, though, so he decided to retire early.
He and Janice returned to the location that meant so much to them in their ministry—the Pine Ridge Reservation. They moved to the town of Rushville, Nebraska, with the hope and prayer of restoring the work on the reservation. But MS took a heavy toll on his health and he spent the last eight years bedridden.
Those who knew Mauk and took care of him commented that not once did they hear him speak a discouraging word. Neighbors helped three times a day to turn him, the country doctor came to the house weekly, and most importantly, Janice stayed close to him.
On Jan. 31, 2020, Mauk suffered a massive stroke and passed away. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Dwayne Mauk is Wilbur Mauk’s son.